In this post, I am going to show you how to sew invisible zipper on a dress with no lining and no facing.
If you'd rather watch the video instructions, scroll to the bottom of this page.
What you are going to need for sewing an invisible zipper
You are going to need the invisible zipper foot. It has those two separate grooves for both sides of the invisible zipper (image 1). You are also going to need the regular zipper foot. The zipper foot is used for the transition between the zipper and the center back seam below it.
If you don’t have an invisible zipper foot, you can use the regular zipper foot for the whole project. You are also going to need the regular foot for the actual joining seam under the zipper (image 1).
Sewing the invisible zipper
Before we start, there are some things I want to pay attention to:
- The zipper tape shouldn't show over the top of the neckline.
- The waist seam should match at both sides of the zipper.
- I don’t want too much of the zipper tape showing. But I also don’t want the seam going too close and over the teeth so that the zipper won’t close.
Here is how to do it.
I already have the neckline hemmed and the seam allowance serged to clean the edges of the details. If you don’t have a serger you can use some other overcasting seam or zig zag the edges for more sophisticated look.
Position the invisible zipper on the dress
Determine the position of the zipper. You might find this a bit confusing at first. To place it right, I like to imagine the zipper as already sewn which is the zipper and the dress face sides together (image 2).
And since I am going to sew it open, I am going to open it (image 3). Then, lay the zipper facing up. Turn it over to align the seam allowance with the zipper tape and the top stopper to the neckline.
For a girl’s dress the zipper has to go approximately 6 inches or 15 cms under the waist in order to be functional. For a woman’s dress you may go for 8 inches or 20 cms. I usually just eyeball it and go with the zipper length.
To start, I am going to insert the invisible zipper foot. It has two separate grooves for each side of the zipper.
I will start with the right side. First, I am going to align the top of the stopper with the top of the neckline. Then, align the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the back center seam allowance. The free end of the zipper tape is going to stick out for now.
Put some pins to fix the zipper in place.
Sew one side of the invisible zipper
I sew at the right side first, so I am going to insert the zipper coil into the right groove on the invisible zipper foot. It doesn't matter which side you sew first, just make sure to use the same side of the invisible zipper foot in order to sew as close to the teeth as you can.
Lock your stitch at the beginning. Now, if you just sew the zipper like this, a bit of the zipper tape is going to be visible on the face side. There is a trick to sew the zipper as if it is really invisible. You need to flatten the zipper coil so that you sew as close to the teeth as possible. I am doing that with my fingers as I go (image 4).
TIP If you find it hard to do this way, you should iron the zipper coil flat prior to sewing the zipper and then sew as close as you can.
Be careful not to go over the coil, because if you do the zipper won’t close.
In order to sew close on the right side, keep the needle centered. If you move it to the right, you are going to sew too far from the coil. As a result,the zipper tape will show on the face side of the dress.
I am going to sew all the way down until I have at least 6 inches or 15 cms of the zipper sewn under the waist (image 5). My zipper is a bit too long so I am not going to sew it all the way down. I lock the seam on this side as well.
I close the zipper to see if I’ve sewn it nicely and I see that I’ve sewn over the coil, so I need to unpick a bit at the top so that I can zip up (image 6). Apart from that I like how the rest of the zipper turned out on this side. I am going to move on to the other side.
Insert the invisible zipper on the other side
Next, I need to attach the zipper on the other side. This time I need to be more careful where I position the zipper. First, I need both sides of the waistline seam to match (image 7).
Second, I want to match the end of the seam on both sides as well. This way the transition between the zipper and the center back seam would be easier to make.
I am going to use a pencil to mark exactly where those points are on the other side of the zipper (image 8). Then, I am going to transfer those marks to the wrong side of the zipper, which is going to be on top when I sew (image 9).
Next, pin the left side of the zipper as precisely as you can. Be careful to match the marks on the zipper with the right side and the top stopper with the neckline (image 11).
I also don’t want to twist the zipper as I attach it to the other side. Once again, lay the zipper facing up. Turn it over to align with the seam allowance (faces sides together with the dress) and pin it in place (image 10).
To sew as close as possible to the zipper teeth, sew the left side guiding the coil into the left groove and move the needle to the left (image 12).
Flatten the zipper coil with your fingers and go all the way down until you reach the second mark that shows where to stop sewing. Reverse stitch a few times to lock your seam.
Finishing the invisible zipper installation
Flip the zipper in so that it stays inside the dress (image 13) and zip it up to see how you’ve done (image 14). I like how I’ve matched the zipper at the waist and the neckline, so I am moving on to make the bottom of the seam.
Align the fabric on both sides of the dress under the zipper. I am going to put a pin to keep them in place (image 15).
Finish the back center seam under the invisible zipper
Use the standard zipper foot to make the transition between the center back seam and the invisible zipper. I sew on the left side of the zipper foot and with my needle positioned to the left so that I go as close to the zipper as I can (image 16).
Start from the bottom up at the same distance that you are going to leave for seam allowance at the center back seam. Make sure to keep the zipper out of the way and align the fabric so that you sew only through both layers of fabric. Sew it up until both stitches intersect at least ⅜ of an inch or 1 cm.
Again, check on the face side to see if all the seams are aligned and the transition between the zipper and the rest of the seam is smooth.
I like how mine turned out, so I am going to continue with the rest of the seam. Using the regular zipper foot, start a bit over the end of the transition seam to intersect thоse two seams as well and then go all the way down to the hem (image 17).
Finish sewing the invisible zipper at the neckline
Here is my invisible zipper almost done (image 18). I need to do just one more thing since I don’t have lining or facings on this dress. I need to hide the free end of the zipper tape so it’s not visible on the face side (image 19).
Just fold it in and sew over the neckline seam so you don’t have another seam that is visible on the same side (image 20). If you prefer, you can fold the free end of the zipper tape under in the beginning and skip this step at the end.
Here are my finished dresses. This is how the invisible zipper looks on the wrong side and on the face side. And here are my girls modeling them. For these dresses, I've used the Summer Sunshine Dress Pattern.
Here are the video instructions on how to install an invisible zipper on a dress:
If you need some more help with zippers, or you need to sew a zipper on a lined dress, try this Craftsy Mastering in Minutes: Zippers course that goes over the most common ways to install zippers.
More resources on zippers:
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